WEEK 2, DAY 8: FORGIVE
Scripture Reference: Mark 8:27-38
Pain. No matter how it came or how deep it runs, everyone has felt its touch. But there is a special kind of pain, one that is more personal and might just run deeper than the rest: betrayal.
We feel betrayal for nearly infinite reasons, whether or not we know we feel it. Common sense is betrayed when the ill-attentive driver nearly sideswipes you in rush hour traffic. Kindness is betrayed when people bully and mock others. Integrity is betrayed when a coworker or classmate takes credit for work you did. Fidelity is betrayed when a significant other sneaks off on a date with someone else. The inevitable result is that no matter how vindicated the abuser feels in their reasons, to hurt someone is to hurt someone, and that isn’t something that can be taken back.
DIFFICULT TO FORGIVE
When it’s done, it’s done. Actions become history, and no matter how hard you try it, you can’t unwrite it. That is the truth that makes it so difficult to forgive others when they hurt us. Pain can seem permanent, and we often want those who hurt us to feel what we felt.
It seems like forgiveness is unjust vindication—like if we forgive the abusive parent, the absent spouse, the disrespectful child, the fake friend, we are lying about reality. It feels like we are telling them that it is okay to hurt people, or like we are telling ourselves that we don’t really matter. When you are the hurt one, your first concern isn’t usually to give your enemy a pat on the back and invite them to do it again.
Would it surprise you to realize that forgiveness is nothing like that?
FORGIVE, THE IRONY
Forgiveness isn’t saying that evil is good, and it is definitely not making yourself a doormat for the evils of others. Evil is evil, and you are valuable. The reality is that until you forgive someone, you are stuck in a moment you froze. No matter what they did, you aren’t moving on. You’re staying still and picking at a wound that will never heal until you stop.
When you refuse to forgive, you aren’t hurting someone whom you assume doesn’t care about you—and they may care, and it may hurt them. You’re hurting yourself despite how much you care about yourself. That’s the ironic thing about it. In your mind, you are holding them in that moment, but in reality, you are the one who is stuck. It punishes you for being hurt more than it punishes them for causing it.
LETTING GO, MOVING ON
Unforgiveness is holding on. Forgiveness is letting go, and letting go is the only way we can move on. It’s no longer needing revenge or for the one who hurt you to feel your pain.
That’s the beautiful thing about God’s forgiveness. He doesn’t want revenge or need us to feel the pain He feels when we sin, even though He is just and faithful to bring justice one day. Not only is He not a slave to that kind of pain, He wants us to be free. And because He has forgiven us, we are free to forgive others. We may still feel the pain, but we no longer have to be enslaved by it. Not us. Not our abusers. No one. Because our sins were nailed to the cross of Christ, we are free to move forward, and in His power, no one can stop us.
— Michael Nichols, Ekk on the Hill
Take time to contemplate:
- What do you need to let go in order to move on?
- How does it impact me to think about God’s forgiveness through Christ on the cross?
Father, thank You for forgiving me in Christ so that I can heal from our own history and live in Your ways and in Your power. Help me to forgive those who have caused me to need healing so that I can move on from the pain, and so that in me they may see the forgiveness only You can give.